England are gearing up for a second successive unbeaten Autumn series next weekend and ahead of their clash with Samoa on Saturday, head coach Eddie Jones has been speaking about his players following their victory over Australia on Saturday.
Enjoying a somewhat flattering 30 – 6 scoreline, England have shown all the traits that fans have come to know since the arrival of Jones back in 2015.
Following a see-saw battle with the Wallabies at a rain-swept Twickenham on Saturday, Jones guided his side to yet another victory with the help of his timely ‘finishers’.
With the dust dampened down, he has quickly turned his attention to the threat of Samoa and named a 35-man squad for England’s final test of the year, not before offering his thought s on the clash with Australia and his imperious Red Rose 23.
Speaking to the media and reported by the Yorkshire Post, the 57-year-old Australian heaped praise on captain Dylan Hartley and replacement scrum-half Danny Care.
Asked whether it was his ‘finishers’ or fitness that sealed a late victory over Michael Cheika’s side, Jones also revealed a somewhat stark assessment of his squad, particularly his British and Irish Lions contingent.
“A bit of both, but we trained for that. We trained to finish that last 20 hard, whether that was the starting guys or finishing guys.
“Last week we didn’t train much. Well, we trained a lot, but not for rugby, because these Lions players still aren’t fit and that’s the battle I’ve got.
“They were better (Saturday) and they will be better next week if they play. We’ve got to get more work into them.
“They came back from a six-week series where they played 300 per cent more than they normally play in their post-season, then they had 10 or 11 days of pre-season at their clubs then they were playing eight or nine games on the trot. It’s tough for them, but we have to try to get them ready for Test rugby.”
With ten of his match-day 23 having travelled to New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions this past summer, the notion that they are still not fit suggests that England are only set to get better in the coming months.
Turning his focus to some of his players on Saturday, Jones singled out captain Hartley for some serious praise.
“I thought Dylan was outstanding, absolutely outstanding. His captaincy was first class. He truly is a good leader and he is moving from being a good captain to an even better captain.
“He manages the referee well and he manages the team well. He’s got a good demeanour about him with the referee. It is so important for the captain to have a good relationship with the referee and he does it brilliantly.
“He’s been around a bit. He’s seen the bottom of the trough and he’s now surfing at the top of the crest and appreciates relationships, he appreciates the opportunity of what he is doing and he is only going to grow as captain.”
High praise indeed. Jones didn’t stop there as he turned to his replacement scrum-half Danny Care and lauded the 30-year-old’s impact on the game late on.
“He was like a little Sanchez playing for Arsenal, here there and everywhere looking for opportunities. He was very creative.”
Jones is clearly still enjoying life with England and based on results alone, he has every right to be happy.
With only one defeat in 24 fixtures, that being a Six Nations defeat to Ireland earlier this year, it is fair to say that under Jones, England are as dominant, if not more so, than the mighty New Zealand.
Facing Samoa this coming weekend, there won’t be too many betting against Jones and his charges from making it 24 wins from 25.